Harry Whittaker
The Time Of The End

19) The Cup Of God’s Wrath

Jeremiah 25

Few prophecies of the Bible are so frightening in their comprehensive expectation of divine judgement as is Jeremiah 25.

The prophet is bidden take a cup of wine and insist that all the nations drink of it. This cup is a symbol of God’s anger against them (compare Psalm 75: 8; Isaiah 51: 17, 22, 23), expressed in the form of war one with another: “And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them” (v. 16).

A long list of the nations and peoples involved is now added. It ends with (v. 26): “And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.”


There is manifest reluctance to obey the prophet’s bidding: “And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink” (v. 28). How accurately these words anticipate the temper of the nations today! They spend untold wealth and resources on a lunatic piling up of armaments, yet not one of them wants war. The frantic activities of the diplomats at each recurring crisis have made a dramatic series of panic-stricken refusals to drink the cup, which they are destined to share. “Ye shall certainly drink!”

The prophecy is associated with the enthronement of a divine king in Jerusalem: “The Lord shall ... utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes (see Revelation 14: 19, 20), against all the inhabitants of the earth ... he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword” (vv. 30, 31).

The war by which God uses the nations to punish themselves is one without parallel in human history: “Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation (compare the abuse of international broadcasting in modern times; and consider also the three unclean spirits like frogs, in Revelation 16: 14), and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground” (vv. 32, 33).


The twentieth century has seen two world wars which were not really world wars at all inasmuch as they left large areas and populations virtually untouched by their ravages and rigours. This next international conflagration will be comprehensive. Even if nuclear weapons are relatively local in their immediate effect, the insidious invisible radiation will carry round the world and bring slow death to millions. In the big centres of population the immediate onset of war will mean horrors of destruction such as few can adequately imagine. A year or two ago American civil defence was geared to an expectation of seventeen millions dead or seriously disabled in the first few hours of nuclear attack. It is only in the last twenty years that this grim Bible prophecy has come within sight of fulfilment.


One detail is specially valuable. The list of nations and peoples coming under judgement begins with Jerusalem (v. 18): “Lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name...” (v. 29).

So it is futile to look to any international crisis elsewhere to spark off this final devastating cataclysm. Cuba, Vietnam, Yemen, Aden, Central Africa, Cyprus, Nigeria, are all unimportant. Eyes must be kept on Jerusalem. When the flare-up is seen there, the end of the age is near.

It is also noteworthy that the second on the list is Egypt (v. 19), and that all the others mentioned by name are Arab peoples and their immediate Near East neighbours. To begin with, then, the war is between Jews and Arabs.

The last name mentioned is “the King of Sheshach.” This is probably a code form of the name Babel (by the device known to the rabbis as Athbash— the equivalent in Hebrew of putting Z for A, Y for B etc.).

Assuming the correctness of this, the identification of the king of “Babylon” is still no easy matter. Many would say with confidence: “the Papacy,” but the case is by no means proven. Yet what alternative is there available?

Next Next Next